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A Dark Night's Work Elizabeth Gaskell

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"Not let Ford Bank! Why? I don't understand it--I can't have been clear--Ellinor, the rent of this house is all you will have to live on!"

"I can't help it, I can't leave this house. Oh, Mr. Ness, I can't leave this house."

"My dear child, you shall not be hurried--I know how hardly all these things are coming upon you (and I wish I had never seen Corbet, with all my heart I do!)"--this was almost to himself, but she must have heard it, for she quivered all over--"but leave this house you must. You must eat, and the rent of this house must pay for your food; you must dress, and there is nothing but the rent to clothe you. I will gladly have you to stay at the Parsonage as long as ever you like; but, in fact, the negotiations with Mr. Osbaldistone, the gentleman who offers to take the house, are nearly completed--"

"It is my house!" said Ellinor, fiercely. "I know it is settled on me."

"No, my dear. It is held in trust for you by Sir Frank Holster and Mr. Johnson; you to receive all moneys and benefits accruing from it"--he spoke gently, for he almost thought her head was turned--"but you remember you are not of age, and Mr. Johnson and I have full power."

Ellinor sat down, helpless.

"Leave me," she said, at length. "You are very kind, but you don't know all. I cannot stand any more talking now," she added, faintly.

Mr. Ness bent over her and kissed her forehead, and withdrew without another word. He went to Miss Monro.

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"Well! and how did you find her?" was her first inquiry, after the usual greetings had passed between them. "It is really quite sad to see how she gives way; I speak to her, and speak to her, and tell her how she is neglecting all her duties, and it does no good."

"She has had to bear a still further sorrow to-day," said Mr. Ness. "On the part of Mr. Johnson and myself I have a very painful duty to perform to you as well as to her. Mr. Wilkins has died insolvent. I grieve to say there is no hope of your ever receiving any of your annuity!"

Miss Monro looked very blank. Many happy little visions faded away in those few moments; then she roused up and said, "I am but forty; I have a good fifteen years of work in me left yet, thank God. Insolvent! Do you mean he has left no money?"

"Not a farthing. The creditors may be thankful if they are fully paid."

"And Ellinor?"

"Ellinor will have the rent of this house, which is hers by right of her mother's settlement, to live on."

"How much will that be?"

"One hundred and twenty pounds."

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A Dark Night's Work
Elizabeth Gaskell

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